Persimmon Tree is delighted to honor Henrietta Mantooth by including her work in this issue. As she has written, “Art is about bravery—not knowing what you are doing until you do it. Letting the paint itself create the reality that you don’t yet know exists. Technique and meaning are discovered simultaneously.”
Henrietta Mantooth grew up in Missouri during the time of economic depression, dust storms, corrupt politics, and rank racial inequality. Yet there were the dime stores for delight and inspiration. She made toys from mud, sticks, hollyhocks, corncobs, and corn silk, and concocted paint from mulberries, beets, boiled onions, and washtub bluing. All this still affects her approach to materials and technique. Living in Latin America for eighteen years, first as a journalist then as a painter, also made a strong impact on her, as did working in experimental theater. She was political even as a child. Her present work is witness to the news of today, such as the predicament of migrants, refugees, and other unnamed protagonists in an unsafe world. Yet birds fly in and flowers bloom in her paintings.
Griot Cloth: Oral History
Installation for Story Telling
Acrylic on Canvas, 2007-8
Wall: 90 X 72 inches
Floor: 98 72 inches
Letters in N.Y.C., The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, The Museum of Modern Art in Brazil, and in numerous galleries and collections across America.
She has received awards and fellowships from the Mc Dowell Colony, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Santa Fe Institute, The New York Foundation for
the Arts, and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, among others.